Shorter days, longer nights, chilly winds and scanty sunlight can cause anyone to feel gloomy and disoriented. If this happens occasionally then it is normal and one can recover soon. However, if this happens like a pattern every year, then one might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD or seasonal depression is a form of mental illness, which occurs every year around the fall season, and the symptoms get worse during winters. The common symptoms are irritability, loss of interest in daily activities, increased need to stay in bed, craving for carbohydrates, sadness, isolation from the social circle, extreme fatigue and lack of energy.
Nearly half a million people from the United States struggle with this disorder and 75 percent sufferers are women. The symptoms of SAD usually manifest in early adulthood, however, they may also be present in children and adolescents. Experts suggest that SAD could result from change in the circadian rhythm or the internal biological clock that regulates mood, sleep and hormones. Additionally, it could also be caused by a change in brain chemistry due to the decreased exposure to light. Low light leads to the production of a chemical known as melatonin, which may be responsible for causing sleepiness and sluggishness.
There are a few strategies, which can alleviate the symptoms and help an individual navigate through the chilly months. Listed below are a few helpful tips:
Taking vitamin-D and omega-3: This is extremely important because in the colder latitudes or at places where there is less exposure to sunlight, people usually develop vitamin-D deficiency, which can cause depression. Intake of Omega-3 also helps tremendously in maintaining the desired levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which are the feel-good hormones.
Joining a fitness class – No matter how hard it appears to be one must devote at least 20 to 30 minutes every day to fight off the winter blues. Exercise relieves stress and anxiety and keeps the body warm. One can join a group class, go for long walks or do any other indoor physical activity.
Purchasing sun lamp and dawn simulator alarm clock – Light therapy can help in keeping depressive symptoms at bay. One can buy a lamp, which emits light with full spectrum, like that of the sun. Another way to stimulate feeling of relaxation is getting a dawn simulator alarm clock, which gradually increases the light in a room so that the person wakes up naturally. It is, however, still important to step outside the confines of home and enjoy the sunshine.
Staying away from alcohol and other substances – It is not uncommon to reach for that tempting glass of rum or weed to feel warm on a chilly night but regular consumption might lead to dependence and addiction. Substance abuse in a depressive state is a dangerous cocktail. One can try drinking warm water, soups and green tea.
Focusing on diet – One must stay from processed food and sugar as they can mess up the blood sugar levels and cause anxiety. Instead, one must fortify the diet with whole foods, complex carbs, and dairy of farm-fed animals, lean proteins and nuts, to feel invigorated throughout the day.
Road to recovery
Sometimes, the self-help strategies may not provide relief and a person continues to feel sad, bored and hopeless. In such a scenario, one should not ignore the symptoms and reach out for professional help without delay.
If you or your loved one is battling depression and looking for the right guidance, The Florida Depression Helpline can help you. The representatives can give you information about the best depression programs in Florida. Call us at our 24/7 helpline 866-267-5177 or chat online with an expert to know about credible and renowned depression treatment centers in Florida where recovery is facilitated in a serene environment using an integrated approach.